We are innovative leaders in the development of conditioning ingredients and developing quats that go beyond the expectation of “just conditioning”. These materials offer unique and specialised consumer benefits beyond detangling and better combability – such as softening, colour protection, sun and environmental protection, lipid replenishment and frizz control. With our wide array of offerings, the ability to create your unique, synergistic effect is limitless.
Quaternary ammonium compounds ("quats") are the primary and most frequently used conditioning agent in hair care. Their great popularity is due to the lubricity they provide and to the conditioning benefits they offer in terms of detangling, combability and feel. The desirable conditioning properties of quats are largely the result of the substantive behaviour of these compounds.
Derived from a tertiary amine and an alkylating agent, quats are cationic molecules – positively charged – regardless of pH. They are surfactants, and thereby surface active, and can function as a primary emulsifier in a formulation; although some quats may require a co-emulsifer. Depending on the characteristics of the molecule when synthesised, such as alkyl chain length, a variety of benefits can be created.
Substantivity occurs when materials that have opposing charges to a substrate are more readily adsorbed onto or attracted to its surface, and once there, are resistant to subsequent rinse-off. Chemically, quaternaries are a class of materials that contain at least one tetrasubstituted nitrogen, meaning they always carry a positive charge regardless of pH. The complex protein of the hair fibre also contains chemical groups that are electrostatically charged. The surface of healthy virgin hair is neutral at pH 3.7 (IEP) and has a negative charge above this pH. Damaged or chemically treated hair has more negative sites, primarily due to an increase in cysteic acid in the hair fibre. Opposite charges attract and quaternaries are strongly attracted to the negative sites on the hair fibre, increasing substantivity. This also leads to enhanced substantivity on the skin, as the skin is also negatively charged. As quaternaries are also resistant to wash-off from the skin, so they confer a long-lasting conditioned feel.
The enhanced feel properties of quats are due to the presence of fatty alkyl groups on the cation. The positively charged cation makes the whole molecule substantive in that the attached fatty chain also adsorbs onto the hair surface. This occurs because the formed quat micelles adsorbed at the hair surface solubilise the fatty alcohol. It is this fatty moiety and its hydrophobic properties that account for the high lubricity quats confer and the associated improvements in detangling and combability. While on the skin, this fatty moiety lends moisturisation and softness.
Our wide range of quaternary ammonium compounds are highly specialised and offer a variety of benefits including no or low volatile solvents, easy to use formats such as liquid or pastilles and are self-emulsifying.
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